Bottlenose dolphins in Hawai‘i

Hawaiian Cetacean Studies >> Bottlenose dolphins in Hawai‘i

Bottlenose dolphin with hook in mouth (trailing a monofilament line) off the west coast of the island of Hawai‘i, July 5, 2009, evidence that this population does interact with local fisheries. Photo by Deron Verbeck/Iamaquatic.com. The reddish-brown material at the corner of the mouth is encrusting stalked barnacles and algae growing on the hook.

Bottlenose dolphins are commonly seen in shallow-water (<500 m deep) areas around the main Hawaiian Islands. Starting in 2000 we began studying bottlenose dolphins in Hawai‘i, first off of Maui and Lana‘i, but expanding in 2002 to O‘ahu and the island of Hawai‘i, and in 2003 to Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau. Below are photographs and information from this research, and pdf copies of publications and reports on bottlenose dolphins in Hawai‘i and elsewhere can be found at the bottom of this page.

Bottlenose dolphin off Kaua‘i, November 23, 2006. Photo by Annie Douglas. Using individual photo-identification we have found high re-sighting rates of bottlenose dolphins around the main Hawaiian Islands, indicating the existence of resident populations. Although we've documented movements of individuals between Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, and between the "4-islands" (Maui, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe, Moloka‘i), we've found no evidence of movements across the deeper channels between Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, O‘ahu and Moloka‘i, or Maui and Hawai‘i. This information was recently published in a paper in Marine Mammal Science (available below).

Bottlenose dolphin leaping, December 10, 2006. Photo by Robin Baird. Genetic analyses by Karen Martien and colleagues at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center have shown that bottlenose dolphins around the main Hawaiian Islands are genetically differentiated from bottlenose dolphins elsewhere, and that even within the main Hawaiian Islands there is evidence of four different populations or stocks, one around Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, one around O‘ahu, one in the 4-islands, and one off the island of Hawai‘i.

Bottlenose dolphins from the open ocean population, April 16, 2006. Photo by Susan Rickards. This group was documented 30 km offshore of the island of Hawai‘i in 3,754 m of water. Offshore bottlenose dolphins in Hawai‘i are much larger and more robust than the insular population.

Bottlenose dolphin off the island of Hawai‘i, July 5, 2008, with a deformed upper jaw. The upper jaw of this individual bends strongly to the right. The reddish-brown visible on the lower jaw are stalked barnacles, probably growing attached to the exposed teeth on the lower jaw, similar to the stalked barnacles that grow on the exposed teeth of beaked whales in Hawai‘i. Photo by Robin Baird.

Bottlenose dolphin tagged with a suction-cup attached time-depth recorder off Maui. Photo by Robin Baird. Unlike most species of whales and dolphins that we've deployed these tags on, to study diving behavior, bottlenose dolphins clearly do not like the tags, and are able to get them off within minutes.

References on bottlenose dolphins

  • Martien, K.K., R.W. Baird, N.M. Hedrick, A.M. Gorgone, J.L. Thieleking, D.J. McSweeney, K.M. Robertson, and D.L. Webster. 2011. Population structure of island-associated dolphins: evidence from mitochondrial and microsatellite markers for common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) around the main Hawaiian Islands. Marine Mammal Science doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00506.x Download PDF copy
     
  • Baird, R.W., A.M. Gorgone, D.J. McSweeney, A.D. Ligon, M.H. Deakos, D.L. Webster, G.S. Schorr, K.K. Martien, D.R. Salden, and S.D. Mahaffy. 2009. Population structure of island-associated dolphins: evidence from photo-identification of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the main Hawaiian Islands. Marine Mammal Science 25:251-274. Download PDF copy. The definitive version is available at Wiley InterScience
     
  • Tezanos-Pinto, G., C.S. Baker, K. Russell, K. Martien, R.W. Baird, A. Hutt, G. Stone, A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, S. Caballero, T. Endo, S. Lavery, M. Oremus, C. Olavarria and C. Garrigue. 2009. A worldwide perspective on the population structure and genetic diversity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in New Zealand. Journal of Heredity 100:11-24. Download PDF copy
     
  • Baird, R.W., G.S. Schorr, D.L. Webster, S.D. Mahaffy, A.B. Douglas, A.M. Gorgone, and D.J. McSweeney. 2006. A survey for odontocete cetaceans off Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, Hawai‘i, during October and November 2005: evidence for population structure and site fidelity. Report to Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, under Order No. AB133F05SE5197 with additional support from the Marine Mammal Commission and Dolphin Quest. Download PDF copy
     
  • Martien, K.K., R.W. Baird and K.M. Robertson. 2005. Population structure of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) around the main Hawaiian Islands. Presentation at the 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Diego, CA, December 2005.
     
  • Baird, R.W., D.J. McSweeney, D.L. Webster, A.M. Gorgone and A.D. Ligon. 2003. Studies of odontocete population structure in Hawaiian waters: results of a survey through the main Hawaiian Islands in May and June 2003. Report prepared under Contract No. AB133F-02-CN-0106 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Western Administrative Support Center, 7600 Sand Point Way N.E., Seattle, WA 98115 USA.Download PDF copy
     
  • Gorgone, A.M., R.W. Baird and D.L. Webster. 2003. Only 50 kms apart, yet bottlenose dolphins do not move between islands in the main Hawaiian island chain. In Abstracts of the 15th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Greensboro, NC, December 2003. Download PDF copy
     
  • Baird, R.W., A.M. Gorgone, and D.L. Webster. 2002. An examination of movements of bottlenose dolphins between islands in the Hawaiian Island chain. Report prepared under contract #40JGNF110270 to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, CA. Download PDF copy
     
  • Berrow, S.D., B. McHugh, D. Glynn, E. McGovern, K.M. Parsons, R.W. Baird and S.K. Hooker. 2002. Organochlorine concentrations in resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon estuary, Ireland. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44:1296-1313. Download PDF copy
     
  • Baird, R.W., A.M. Gorgone, A.D. Ligon, and S.K. Hooker. 2001. Mark-recapture abundance estimate of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus around Maui and Lana‘i, Hawai‘i, during the winter of 2000/2001. Report prepared under contract #40JGNF0-00262 to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, CA. Download PDF copy
     
  • Schneider, K., R.W. Baird, S. Dawson, I. Visser and S. Childerhouse. 1998. Reactions of bottlenose dolphins to tagging attempts using a remotely-deployed suction-cup tag. Marine Mammal Science 14:316-324. Download PDF copy
     
  • Baird, R.W., E.L. Walters and P.J. Stacey. 1993. Status of the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, with special reference to Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 107:466-480. Download PDF copy

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